Abigail Housing is a registered West Yorkshire based charity providing accommodation and support to refugees and asylum seekers across Leeds and Bradford, preventing destitution and promoting inclusion. We were established in 2007 and have 12 years’ experience of meeting the needs of destitute asylum seekers and refugees, alleviating isolation and preventing homelessness, enabling those who settle here to rebuild their lives. Abigail Housing operates 2 projects: the Leeds Refugee Project and the Bradford Destitution Project. The Leeds Refugee Project prevents homelessness and supports engagement amongst newly recognised refugees, assisting with access to employment, education, entitlements and long-term housing. The partnership we have with Green Pastures has proved invaluable since it was established in 2014.
The Destitution Project in Bradford provides accommodation and support to 19 residents at any given time, across 5 properties that we manage within Bradford. We recognise that without the Green Pastures partnership we would not be able to prevent homelessness and destitution to 7 of these individuals and, without the work of projects like ours, many seeking sanctuary in Bradford and Leeds would become homeless. Since 2007, the Bradford Destitution Project has housed more than 200 people, and last year we accommodated and supported 33 asylum seekers who had previously been refused leave to remain status. This provision, the largest of its kind in the area, enables asylum seekers to experience stability and safety while seeking legal assistance to make further submissions to the Home Office. The Leeds Refugee Project has accommodated over 700 people and, in 2018, supported 109 refugees.
As more people continue to flee conflicts across the world and seek sanctuary in the UK, the number of asylum seekers dispersed to Bradford is increasing. 70% of initial applications are refused in the UK (Home Office National Statistics, Nov 2018) and we have observed a continuing rise in the numbers facing destitution, with demand for our service high. The risks and long-term impact of street homelessness on vulnerable individuals who have experienced significant levels of trauma and loss before arriving in the UK are extremely concerning, including escalating mental and physical health problems, which compound isolation and marginalisation. Through support of our project with the assistance of Green Pastures people can have a place to call home whilst they pursue their claim for asylum or before moving on and settling down.
The Destitution project relies solely on grant funding and donations to sustain the accommodation and support it provides to residents. Due to increasing costs we currently have no plans to expand and increase capacity; however, we are not ruling this out for the future.